Supreme Court to Strike Down AMLO’s Decree on Government Projects
By MARK LORENZANA
Mexico’s Supreme Court (SCJN) is preparing to deal another blow to the federal government of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), specifically to the president’s decree that limits transparency on government projects.
An article by Mexican daily newspaper Reforma on Monday, April 24, detailed that several SCJN justices — headed by SCJN Justice Juan Luis González Alcántara, who is not part of the SCJN bloc that supports AMLO’s so-called Fourth Transformation (4T) — are preparing to declare as unconstitutional López Obrador’s presidential decree that all priority projects and works under the Office of the Presidency of the Republic are deemed of national security, therefore limiting the transparency of these projects.
The presidential decree, which came into effect on Nov. 22, 2021, was originally used to expedite one of López Obrador’s pet projects, the multibillion-peso Tren Maya tourist train. The presidential decree has since ordered all government agencies to grant provisional authorizations for works within five business days, “because it is in the interest of the public and of national security.”
The SCJN is expected to invalidate the decree sometime in May, specifically the part that limits transparency on government projects.
Originally, it was the National Institute for Transparency Access to Information and Personal Data Protection (INAI) — the embattled independent transparency organization that has been on the crosshairs of López Obrador for two years now, which is just one of several independent organizations that the president is determined to wipe out — that brought the matter of the presidential decree to the SCJN.
At the start of of 2022, the federal government used the presidential decree to begin construction works on the contentious Section 5 of the Tren Maya in the absence of an Environmental Impact Statement (MIA), but a federal judge in May of last year suspended the construction. At that time, López Obrador declared that his self-granted presidential decree would allow the train to continue being built without any MIA, saying that his decree “is legal.”
“I signed the decree because we have to move forward and what (the opponents to the project) want is for us not to do anything,” he said. “But I’m not going to just stand idly by and suck my thumb. If I had not issued the decree, they would have been able to stop us completely.”
López Obrador went on to justify his decision by saying that if had allowed the project to have been slowed by legal injunctions and judicial orders, it would have cost taxpayers a lot more.
“We are talking about the people’s money,” he said. “I have to take care of it, because that’s why the people chose me, to defend their interests.”
This is not the first time that AMLO has resorted to so-called “national security” to free his administration’s projects of court injunctions, as he has also used this pretext for another of his pet projects — the Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA).
With this pretext of national security, López Obrador has ignored injunctions against the AIFA, as well as denied requests for access to information about the airport’s construction.